Air Canada President and CEO Calin Rovinescu attends the company’s annual general meeting in Montreal, Friday, May 5, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graham Hughes

Air Canada shares hit 10-year high

MONTREAL — Air Canada shares were at their highest in more than 10 years on Thursday after the country’s largest airline said analyst forecasts had significantly underestimated one of its earnings benchmarks.

Shares in the Montreal-based airline peaked at $19.06 in morning trading on the Toronto Stock Exchange rose. In later trading, they were up 7.38 per cent or $1.28 at $18.62.

The last time Air Canada shares (TSX:AC) were at these levels was in February 2007.

The shares surged after Air Canada said its EBITDAR (earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation, amortization, impairment and aircraft rent) will be better than $475 million average forecast by analysts for the three months ended June 30.

In last year’s second quarter, Air Canada posted a record $605 million in EBITDAR and $186 million of net income, which includes many items required under general accounting.

Chief executive Calin Rovinescu says the results for this year’s second quarter, to be announced Aug. 4, were driven by higher revenue and lower than projected fuel costs.

He said in a news release that the quarter was capped by transporting nearly one million customers over the six-day Canada Day-Fourth of July period, including a single-day record of 166,850 passengers on June 29.

Walter Spracklin of RBC Capital Markets said the guidance reaffirmed his “bullish view” of the company.

He raised his target price for Air Canada to $25 from $21, saying the shares are undervalued.

Air Canada was expected to earn $19.5 million of net income in the second quarter on revenues of nearly $3.8 billion, according to analysts polled by Thomson Reuters.

Adjusted profits were forecast to be $45.7 million or 19 cents per share, down from $203 million or 72 cents per share a year ago.

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